What are TMJ Disorders?
Have you ever heard about TMJ disorders but you are unfamiliar with what exactly it is?
TMJ is short for Temporal Mandibular Joint and are the jaw muscles and joints that connect your jaw bone to your skull, much like a hinge. This hinge or joint, allows us to open and close our mouths, as well as help us chew and swallow and form our speech. The TMJ also controls the lower jaw (the mandible), allowing it to move forward and side to side. We have a TMJ on each side of our head in front of our ears. Each TMJ has a disc between the socket and the ball of the joint to endure impact for daily use of it. When this disc is worn or torn is how TMJ disorder occurs, also referred to as TMD (Temporal Mandibular Disorder). According to NIDCR (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) over 10 million people are affected by this disorder.
TMJ is more common in women than in men and although you can have this disorder at any age, it is most common in the ages of 20 to 40 years old.
When you have a TMJ disorder you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Pain or tenderness in the Temporal Mandibular Joint
- Stiffness in jaw
- Lock jaw or limited jaw movement
- Pain that radiates to face and neck
- Discomfort when chewing
- Inability to open and close your jaw
- Change in how your upper and lower teeth come together when your jaw is completely closed
How Do You Know If You Have a TMJ Disorder?
To determine if you or someone you know has TMJ disorder you must first consult a professional who understands musculoskeletal disorders and is trained in treating it. The most recommended professional for this diagnosis is your dentist. Dentist are highly trained in this field of study and in the head and neck in general. Upon seeing your dentist for a consultation, you will receive a physical and visual examination of the jaw. You may need an x-ray or CT scan before a proper diagnosis can be made, as to rule out other possibilities for your pains, such as ear and sinus infections or infected teeth.
How Are TMJ Disorders Treated?
TMJ disorder is often managed rather than cured but the pain can be commonly reduced with noninvasive treatment. More severe and chronic TMJ disorders will call for more aggressive measures. All which your dentist can help you determine. Any professional will agree that starting out simple is the best approach. Often the dentist will recommend ice packs in the TMJ area. Simple changes in your daily habits may also be recommended, such as not chewing gum and nail biting. A soft diet may be recommended, as well as pain medications and relaxation therapies. If your bite is affected and the cause of your disorder, then a mouth guard, orthodontics or crowns and bridge treatment may be recommended.
Not all of the treatment is effective and the wrong treatment can make it worse. Therefore, it is very important that you work closely and cooperate with your dentist to determine which treatment is right for you.
The best way to prevent undetected TMJ disorders is simply to make sure you see your dental professional twice a year for your check up and cleanings, where each time you will receive a chair-side evaluation of TMJ. It is common practice for your dentist to check your jaw each time you get your teeth cleaned for possible signs of the disorder. So, call Paradise Ridge today at 602-867-8488 and schedule your next checkup.
Learn more about treatment for TMJ by visiting our website here.